There will be no Coventry Street Arts Fair in 2012, said Steve Presser, owner of Big Fun and member of the Coventry Special Improvement District.
Instead, the Coventry business district will focus on enhancing its music and movie series that it hosts Thursday nights throughout the summer. Presser said the first one will likely be at the end of June, and they will be scheduled throughout July.
"We’re looking to potentially widen the scope of what we’re doing. We may do other programming on the street," he said.
The Coventry SID planned two Coventry Street Arts Fairs last summer, but the second one was canceled after the first fair, which started off as a great event, ended on a very negative note.
Police Chief Jeffrey Robertson said that police arrested 16 teenagers for fighting or drinking alcohol after the fair on June 26, and though it was difficult to determine, he estimated hundreds of kids congregated in the street.
"What we’d like to do is creative positive events for families and individuals on the street," said Presser, who handles marketing and promotion for the business district. "The street fair is a one-day event for five hours and that’s great, but we just want to make sure that the next one we put on runs smoothly."
Councilwoman Mary Dunbar, who was working at the Heights Bicycle Coalition booth, called the events "upsetting" last year.
"Until 4 p.m., the fair was wonderful, but by 6 p.m. the crowd was overwhelmingly teenagers who were there looking for excitement, not art. The racing up and down the street and one violent incident that I witnessed after the fair ended were entirely predictable, and our police dealt with situations swiftly. A woman vendor whose merchandise was scattered in the melee told me that she would never come back," she said.
The problems with the fair prompted City Council to establish a 6 p.m. curfew laws for minors in the Coventry and Cedar Lee business districts, which were later amended to make exceptions for kids patronizing businesses and concert venues and expanded to Severance.
Mayor Ed Kelley said that not organizing a fair this year was a "prudent decision."
"I do not want to have anyone’s public safety put at risk by a bunch of kids that are out of control, and I don’t want a bunch of cops there arresting people left and right," he said. "We’ve made great strides with our curfew, and I want to keep Cleveland Heights the safest city it can be."
Vice Mayor Dennis Wilcox said the focus will now be on improving the weekly music and movie series.
"That doesn’t mean they won’t bring (the fair) back, but they want to expand and improve on some of the weekly events they do," he said.
Presser also said a Coventry Street Arts Fair, which started in the 1970s, could come back in 2013.
"We want to make sure that if we have a street fair, that we put on the best street fair possible," he said. "The events that we’re doing (this summer) will take advantage of Coventry P.E.A.C.E. Park, which is an integral part of the Coventry neighborhood."
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